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Spain – Education and Schools

Spain is a diverse and culturally rich country located in southwestern Europe. Its education system is known for its high standards and rigorous curriculum. In this article, we will explore the quality of education in Spain, the ages at which education is compulsory, the types of schools available, the syllabus and qualifications offered, typical school hours and holidays, enrollment requirements, competition for enrollment, and options for higher education.

Quality of Education in Spain

Spain has a reputation for having a high-quality education system. The country places a strong emphasis on education, and as a result, Spain has a high literacy rate of 98%. The education system in Spain has undergone several reforms in recent years, with a focus on modernization and innovation. Spanish schools are known for their rigorous curriculum and strong emphasis on academic achievement.

Compulsory Education in Spain

Education is compulsory in Spain for children between the ages of 6 and 16. This means that all children must attend school for at least 10 years, from primary school to lower secondary school. After that, students can choose to continue their education at an upper secondary school, vocational school, or higher education institution.

Types of Schools in Spain

Primary Schools

Primary schools in Spain are for students between the ages of 6 and 12. The curriculum focuses on basic skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics, as well as subjects such as social studies, natural science, and foreign languages. Primary school is compulsory for all students and is free of charge.

Lower Secondary Schools


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Lower secondary schools in Spain are for students between the ages of 12 and 16. The curriculum is more focused on academic subjects, such as mathematics, science, and foreign languages. Students also take courses in social studies, physical education, and art. Lower secondary school is also compulsory for all students and is free of charge.

Upper Secondary Schools

Upper secondary schools in Spain are divided into two types: Bachillerato and Formación Profesional (FP). Bachillerato is an academic program that prepares students for university studies, while FP is a vocational program that prepares students for specific trades or professions. Both types of upper secondary schools are not compulsory and are fee-paying.

Syllabus and Qualifications in Spanish Schools

The curriculum in Spanish schools is set by the Ministry of Education and is standardized across the country. The curriculum includes a broad range of subjects, such as mathematics, science, social studies, foreign languages, and the arts. Students are required to take exams at the end of each level of education to receive a qualification.

Qualifications offered by Spanish schools include the Certificate of Primary Education, the Certificate of Lower Secondary Education, the Bachillerato Diploma, and the Formación Profesional Diploma. Students who wish to attend university must take the Selectividad exam, which is a standardized test that measures their academic ability. The results of the Selectividad are used by universities to determine which students they will admit.

School Hours and Holidays in Spain

School hours in Spain vary depending on the level of education. Primary schools typically start at 9 am and finish at 2 pm, while lower secondary schools start at 8 am and finish at 2 pm or 3 pm. Upper secondary schools generally start at 8 am and finish at 2 pm or 3 pm, although some schools may have afternoon classes.

The academic year in Spain starts in September and ends in June of the following year. There are two semesters, with a one-week holiday in October, a two-week holiday in December, a one-week holiday in February, and a one-week holiday in April. In addition to these breaks, there are also national and regional holidays throughout the year.

Enrollment Requirements and Competition

To enroll in a school in Spain, students must provide documentation such as a birth certificate, proof of residency, and their academic records from their previous school. For international students, a passport and visa may also be required. In addition, students must take an entrance exam to be admitted to an upper secondary school.

Competition for enrollment in Spanish schools can vary depending on the location and the level of education. Some schools may be more selective than others, particularly at the upper secondary level. However, the competition for enrollment is generally not as intense as in some other countries.

International Schools in Spain

For students who are not native Spanish speakers or who wish to receive an international education, there are also many international schools in Spain. These schools offer an education in English or another foreign language and follow a different curriculum than traditional Spanish schools. Some popular international schools in Spain include:

International schools in Spain can be quite expensive, and admission is often competitive. However, they offer a unique opportunity for students to receive an education that is not available in traditional Spanish schools.

Higher Education in Spain

Spain has a wide range of universities and higher education institutions, both public and private. The most prestigious universities are known as the Russell Group, which includes the University of Barcelona, University of Granada, and Complutense University of Madrid. Other top universities in Spain include the Autonomous University of Madrid and the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

To be admitted to a university in Spain, students must take the Selectividad exam and receive a high score. The competition for admission to top universities can be fierce, and students often spend years preparing for the exam. In addition to traditional universities, Spain also has many vocational schools and community colleges that offer technical training and education.

In conclusion, education in Spain is highly regarded and known for its rigor and high standards. Students are required to attend school from primary school to lower secondary school, and they can choose to continue their education at an upper secondary school, vocational school, or higher education institution. The curriculum is standardized across the country and includes a broad range of subjects, including mathematics, science, and foreign languages. International schools and universities also offer unique opportunities for students who want an education in English or a different curriculum. Overall, the education system in Spain is designed to prepare students for success in their future careers and is an important part of the country’s culture and identity.


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